LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) -Two-time Derby winning trainer, Doug O’Neill, has a solid chance of adding a third blanket of roses to his resume. His contender, Hot Rod Charlie, is listed as the fourth choice on the Derby’s morning line .
While Hot Rod Charlie is one of the top names in the O’Neill barn, the colt will need to win the Run for the Roses to surpass the most famous horse in the trainer’s stable. Right now, that distinction belongs to O’Neill’s stable pony, Lava Man.
Lava Man is now enjoying a second career at the track. His first career was so brilliant, it landed the now 20- year- old horse in the sport’s Hall of Fame.
Lava Man was a racehorse before his pony days, and what a racehorse. His career got off to a slow start but from 2005 and 2007, the gelding hit stride, winning many major events. He would capture three Hollywood Gold Cups, two Santa Anita Handicaps and a Pacific Classic. In all, Lava Man took down seven Grade One races and his career earnings totaled over $5.2 million.
In 2015, O’Neill’s gelding was inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame.
A couple years after his retirement from racing, Lava Man was sent to a farm in California. But he just didn’t seem to adapt very well to his new surroundings. O’Neill decided to bring him aboard as a lead pony. It clicked, and Lava Man continues as a happy horse.
From the Hall of Fame to a stable pony, Lava Man is still a valuable member of the O’Neill team.